The RAF have paid tribute to the Canadian Air Force with a Dakota flyover and rededication service at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
First unveiled in 2011 by HRH the Duke of Gloucester and attended by senior representatives of the RAF and Canada, the Memorial which is set in the extensive grounds of the site in Staffordshire, is a timeless thanks to those who served in the Canadian Air Forces and to those from many nations who have supported them.
Comprising a granite pillar encircled with stone donated by the LaFarge company taken from the Canadian Shield, making this a piece of Canada in the middle of the UK. It also features a brief history of the Canadian Air Forces and the poem “High Flight” written by John Gillespie Magee which is widely referred to as the “Airman’s Poem”. Fittingly Magee was an American pilot, one of many who served in Canadian Squadrons at the outbreak of war. This is represented in both English and French, the two official languages of Canada.
Wg Cdr Jon McMahon representing the RAF said:
The Dakota from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight provided a poignant flypast over the ceremony, a type synonymous with the Second World War and a link with the key role that military aviation played in the development of Canada as a nation. This was especially evident after the First World War when the vast size of Canada was able to benefit from the unique capabilities of air transport as a supply and communication tool.
The wartime arrival of so many service personnel was felt widely in the areas hosting the large bomber squadrons and especially in North Yorkshire where complete Canadian crews were often matched with a British Flight Engineer. The memorial was built in a project led by the two RAF stations at Leeming and Linton on Ouse.
Sqn Ldr Alfred Hall from the project team explained:
The ceremony included a wreath laying by both nations and by Mr Ken Cothliff whose father served with the RCAF. A particular highlight was the attendance of Lt Col Theriault, a serving RCAF officer representing the Canadian High Commission in London.